COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause only mild respiratory diseases such as the common cold. SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, is a more serious strain of coronavirus that spreads and infects people easily. Most children who have had COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. 

How COVID-19 is Spread to Others

The virus that causes COVID-19 can pass from person to person through droplets of fluid that are coughed or sneezed into the air. Experts think that the virus can also be spread by touching surfaces that have the virus on them. For example, if you touch a doorknob or other surface that an infected person has touched or sneezed or coughed on and then you touch your face, you could pick up the virus.

Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough 
  • Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Other symptoms include sore throat, congestion or runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea and muscle aches

The symptoms range from mild to severe. Some infected children may have no symptoms.

Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

How to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

  • Everyone needs to wash hands often. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used.
  • Everyone must cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into the elbow. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Wash hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after discarding used tissues.
  • Clean all frequently touched surfaces every day or more often with a household disinfecting spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. These include doorknobs, light switches, faucets and toilet handles and other hard surfaces that are also touched by members of your household.
  • Wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Children under the age of 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should NOT use cloth face coverings.

For more information about cloth face coverings, see the CDC.gov website.

What to Expect if Your Child Needs to be Tested for COVID-19

  • If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, he or she will be asked to wear a mask
  • Your health care provider will ask about your child’s symptoms, about recent travel, and contact with sick people. 
  • If the health care provider feels testing for COVID-19 is needed, a nose swab will be done. With this test, a cotton-tipped swab is wiped inside of the nose to check for the virus. Some children may have a small amount of bleeding from the nose after this test is done.

For Children Sent Home After Testing

  • You or your community provider will be notified by Nationwide Children’s Hospital of your child’s test results in about 72 hours. In some cases, results could take more than 72 hours. Please do not call the COVID-19 hotline for your test results. 
  • If your child was tested for COVID-19 because they are scheduled for a procedure (pre-procedure screen), you will be contacted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital with the results before the scheduled procedure.
  • If your child already has a MyChart account, results will be available there. 
    • If you do not have MyChart access for your child, you can sign up for an account online by requesting an activation code at MyChart.NationwideChildrens.org and selecting ‘Request Access Online.’ After completing the online form, the activation code will be emailed to the patient or family within 2 business days. 
  • It is important to monitor your child’s symptoms and seek medical care if symptoms worsen, such as difficulty breathing. Before seeking care, call your child’s health care provider or medical facility staff to inform them that your child has been tested for COVID-19. Have your child put on a facemask before you enter the facility.

Caring for Your Child at Home Until Test Results are Known

  • If your child has no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and was tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, only because they are scheduled for a procedure at Nationwide Children’s Hospital there are no changes needed to the normal care of your child at home
  • If your child has been tested for SARS-CoV-2 because they have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, for the safety of your family, please begin the practices listed below until you are called with testing results:
    • Start home isolation: keep your child at home except to get medical care. Have your child avoid large group gatherings, including public areas and public transportation. Children and adolescents should not go to school or work until you have been notified that it is safe to do so.
    • As much as possible, keep your child away from other members of your household. Ideally, have your child remain in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. 
    • Avoid close face-to-face contact, as much as possible. 
    • Practice recommended hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Avoid touching your face.
    • Do not let your child share household items, such as dishes, utensils, towels and bedding with others until the item is washed. Be sure to wash items thoroughly with soap and water after each use.
    • Avoid unnecessary visitors in your home.
    • Have your child avoid contact with pets and other animals. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended to limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
    • Household members working away from home should remain in home isolation until the test results are finalized. Tell your employer of your status for more instruction.

If Your Child is Positive for COVID-19

  • Continue with home isolation until instructed by the state or local health department that normal activity can resume.
  • Continue with all the measures as listed above to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Follow all recommendations provided by your child’s health care provider.
  • All household members should remain in home isolation until you are informed by your local health department that you can stop isolation and may return to work and other activities. Inform your employer of your status.

How COVID-19 is Treated

  • There are no medicines to treat COVID-19 in children at this time.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of age-appropriate fluids.
  • Encourage your child to rest often.
  • Never give your child products containing ASPIRIN unless instructed specifically by a doctor.
  • You may give fever-reducing medicine, such as acetaminophen, as needed. Before taking ibuprofen, check with your doctor to make sure it is okay. FOLLOW ALL PACKAGE DOSING INSTRUCTIONS. 
  • Contact your doctor with any questions.
  • Do NOT ignore worsening symptoms

When to Call the Doctor or Seek Medical Care

If your child has: 

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Breathing that is very fast
  • Symptoms that get worse

When to Call (911)

Call 911 if your child has: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sucking in of the skin between the ribs when breathing (retractions)
  • Turning blue around the mouth
  • Breathing very fast
  • Appears very ill

Resources for More COVID-19 Information

  • See the Centers for Disease Control website (https://www.cdc.gov) for the most up to date information about COVID-19. The main page has a link for all COVID-19 topics.  
  • The Ohio Department of Health (ODH): (Coronavirus.ohio.gov). ODH provides a phone line you can call with any COVID-19 questions at 1-833-427-5634. 
  • Another resource to answer your questions is the 700 Children’s Blog, which you can find on our website (www.nationwidechildrens.org). Once you are on the main hospital page, search for COVID-19.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) (PDF)

HH-I-466 © 3/16/2020, Revised 7/27/2020 Nationwide Children’s Hospital